Last night Seiko celebrated the grand opening of its first high-end boutique in the United States. President and CEO of Seiko Watch Corporation Shinji Hattori welcomed media and clients as well as brand ambassador Novak Djokovic, who is in New York to play in the U.S. Open, beginning next week. The boutique is located at 510 Madison Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, and while it soft-opened on July 16th, last night marked the sincere beginning of a new push into the United States market for the Japanese watchmaker.
Most people in the United States know Seiko for its more consumer-oriented quartz watches, found in department stores across the country. In fact, many of Seiko's higher-end offerings only became available outside of Japan in the last decade. Previously, prestige collections like Grand Seiko and Credor were produced entirely for the domestic market. In just a few short years, Grand Seiko has become a cult hit internationally, developing its own dedicated base of collectors and fans in a field dominated by Swiss marques. The New York City boutique is dedicated solely to these prestige collections, making it the first of its kind in the United States for Seiko. Company officials are hoping it will herald a huge step in growing distribution and brand awareness on this side of the Pacific.
"I have personally encouraged the introduction of Grand Seiko and Astron collections, among others, to the U.S. market," said Mr. Hattori in an e-mail. "I am passionate about continuing to expand Seiko's presence." The New York boutique signifies the biggest move from Seiko since it first introduced Grand Seiko to American customers in 2010. In addition to offering Grand Seiko and Astron (GPS-enabled watches that use satellites to adjust the time) the boutique will showcase collections like Credor, a group of exceptional hand-finished watches that compete with the very best coming out of the Swiss Vallée de Joux.
And for the launch of the boutique, Seiko isn't pulling any punches: The manufacture's two crown jewels, the Credor Minute Repeater (approximately $400,000) and Credor Sonnerie (approximately $200,000), will be available for sale. These pieces combine the technological advances of Spring Drive -- Seiko's patented movement that uses a mechanical power source with electronic time regulation -- with top-notch hand finishing that will leave even the most experienced collector in awe. These are serious, serious watches, and their appearance in New York is not to be taken lightly.
Ultimately, Hattori's goal for the New York boutique is clear and ambitious. "We will show the essence of the Seiko brand and tell the untold story of Seiko."